The Union Recorder

August 10, 2013

So at my age I forget a few things

Mike Rowland
The Union-Recorder

MILLEDGEVILLE — First, let me clear up a few things from last week’s column. Just so you know, I haven’t changed my mind a bit about the whole tattoo thing. If anything, I am more perplexed than ever by my newfound preoccupation with the human body as an art canvas.

My wife, confidante and proofreader - as in the same person just in case you didn’t pick up on that - said she thought my tattoo epistle was funny. But, she hit the save button on my computer and very smugly said, “You mean you aren’t going to tell them about your tattoos?”

Of course I accused her of not knowing what she was talking about. Now for you men who have been married for more than three minutes, you are saying out loud, “Noooooo! He didn’t just do that!”

I am afraid I did, and after some minor conversation it was determined that she did in fact know what she was talking about, and I had some crow to eat.

Well, not exactly crow, but here is the story.

In November 2009, I was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Come to find out, my doctors were not exactly forthcoming as to just how bad the cancer was. Regardless, I started treatments in February 2010. Twenty-six external beam radiation treatments and two high dose radiation treatments to be exact.

It took a month of being zapped each day, five days a week to complete the treatments. The high dose thing was pretty unpleasant, so I will spare you the details. Suffice it to say that given the choice, I’d choose waterboarding every time.

The entire experience meant a bunch of poking, prodding, measuring and marking so that the nice young ladies who administered the treatment could hit the same mark every time. If you have ever split firewood, then you know how hard it can be to throw an ax into the same place twice.

I figure the same is true for aiming a radiation beam.

Consequently, at some point during this experience, I got my tattoos - two little green dots - one on each hip at about the same spot on opposite sides. To be honest, I’d forgotten about them.

I checked the other day just to be sure they hadn’t worn off. I kind of consider them my little red badge of courage. Sure enough there they are. Right where I remembered.

Just so you know, I have been going to the doctor every three months for the past three-and-a-half years for blood work to be sure that the radiation gods were eating the cancer gremlins as modern medicine intended. Each report has been a little better than the last.

I have suffered very few side effects. Ok, unless of course you consider that frying one’s abdomen may significantly alter the entire ‘hold it until we get to the next exit’ thing while traveling on family vacations … or sleeping through the night, for that matter … again, I will spare you the details.

The good news is that my doctor says there is no sign of cancer, and I can now start on a six-month cancer screening instead of every three.

You may remember from last week that one of the things I am learning about people who have tattoos is that they all have a story to tell. Some are more dramatic than others, but I haven’t seen a tattoo yet that, if one has the courage to ask, won’t elicit a pretty good story.

And now you know mine.